I’m not addicted to shopping. At least, that’s what I tell myself and those who question my shopping habits. Yes, I buy multiple items every week and yes, I am also aware of the ridiculous amount of clothing that piles up (most of which I only wore in the few short weeks after buying it, once, or never at all). It’s not like I’m buying things because I want more clothes for the sake of it. It’s just, with each piece I carry along to the register, I feel this feeling of this is the one. This is going to change things. This is going to make me different.
But this month, in an effort to build a budget I can actually stick to, I realized the way out of all my impulse buys isn’t changing my spending habits; it’s in changing my entire approach to personal style!
And why exactly is this so important? The impact of personal style goes far beyond making a good first impression; great style is more about approaching each day with confidence, and the ability to feel legitimately beautiful in what we are wearing. Believe it or not, the right wardrobe can make a difference in our confidence.
In terms of your wardrobe, I want you to really know what you like, understand what looks good on you, and how to shop for what fits your style so that when you find the right piece to add to your closet you exclaim, “This is so me!” Whether you shop every week or just feel that urge to buy new clothes every time there’s an upcoming event you’re attending, your buying habits aren’t necessarily the root of the problem. Your personal style is.
Finding (and refining) your personal style can be a struggle. I’ve been there so many times, as I gaze into my closet full of clothes and come to that dreadful realization of “I’ve got a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear.”
Start with how you want to feel.
We are attracted to clothes for the same reason we are attracted to a piece of music or a painting: Because it makes us feel a certain way. This is what we are chasing with each piece of clothing we buy — a feeling.
The problem: Most of the time, we aren’t digging deep enough to figure out if this new piece makes us feel the way we actually want to feel. And we’ll never be satisfied with what we have if what we have already isn’t in alignment with our values, how we want to show up, and ultimately, how we want to feel. So we try again and buy another new top.
The first step is looking inwards and deciding how you want to show up. What do you want people to know about you? How do you want them to feel when they’re around you? What do you most want to feel in your own skin? Use your answers to guide your style and what you buy. Ask yourself, Does this piece of clothing make me feel the way I most want to feel?
Raise the bar (identify your style zone of genius).
I shop almost every week and there are still things I want, but never get. I dream of going months in between purchases while still buying everything I want. I want to raise the bar on what I bring into my closet and put on my body.
Once we get clear on how we want to feel, we can then figure out what colors, silhouettes, fabrics and styles make us feel most that way. We can also decide what brands we feel good supporting and how much money we feel good about spending on a particular item. You want a wardrobe that not only represents your vision and creativity, but also one that is tailored to your lifestyle. Consider the persona you want to represent in the world and how you want your style to reflect your personality.
Then, instead of shopping and dressing anywhere in the realm of new, good enough, and “I think I can afford it,” we can live in our best, most intentional style (our style zone of genius).
Direct your attention to what you already have.
Overwhelm, guilt, regret, inadequacy . . . When we have impulsive buying habits, this is what we feel when we take a look at our wardrobe. It’s hard to choose outfits that make us feel good — that make us feel the way we want to feel — when our closet as a whole sends us into a spiral of negative emotions.
Once you know where your style zone of genius lies, you can start to clear out the items you have that don’t measure up. And, more importantly, reconnect with the great pieces you already own!
Use this weekend, or start with five minutes every day, to weed out the pieces that make you feel how you want to feel to the front and center of your closet. Meanwhile, the pieces that aren’t in your style zone of genius can start to move out of your line of sight when you open your closet, and eventually out of your closet all together through donation, reselling or repurposing. Then, show the pieces that remain some love! Wear your most treasured dress on an ordinary day. Put on your favorite top with the bottoms you’ve been dying to wear. Complete your looks with bright lipstick or dazzling jewelry that makes you feel your most beautiful.
Taking these steps to build a wardrobe in alignment with you, that leaves you satisfied instead of hungry, is your best antidote for impulsive buying, shopping addiction, and a case of “a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear.”
Create an inspiration board.
The likelihood of finding a single style icon that defines you is kinda low. Most people are more of a mix. Jot down the names of your favorite style icons and do a bit of research to gather inspiration from their looks. Maybe you gravitate toward Amber Fillerup Clark’s bohemian and eclectic aesthetic with a dose of Anna Jane Wisniewski’s sophisticated basics, and a pinch of Julia Engel’s classic femininity. Pulling different types of inspiration from several sources is a great way to figure out what you like most and what you dislike.
This week, make a secret Pinterest board titled “Personal Style Inspiration.” Create a list of five to seven of your favorites celebs or bloggers, do a quick search on each of them, and pin the images and outfits that most resonate with you. Once you’ve pinned a few images, write down all the elements they have in common. Chances are, the characteristics your write down most frequently are the ones you most relate to, and the vibe that makes you the most comfortable.
Why is this important? When you feel comfortable, you look and feel your best!
It’s hard seeing the many trendy women post photos of what pieces they’re “currently coveting” and not feel the impulse to buy the same $100 dress even when I know it’s not in my budget. So, I’ve learned to experiment with the latest fashion trends the smart way — I hunt for trendy deals at discount places like TJ Maxx and Forever 21. I only splurge on staple pieces: chic booties, a great handbag, a nice coat. Plus, with a little extra attention (i.e., check the hems, test the zippers), it’s easy to tell which cheap items will last and which items are just, ya know, cheap.
So do a little research on store reviews to find out where you can get quality items at a great price. Then, after taking stock of what you already have and creating a personal style Pinterest board, make a list of items you don’t already have but are interested in buying. Take that list with you every time you go shopping and try your best to stick to it! That way, you won’t be tempted to stray and pick up another impulse buy!
If you only purchase to fill the holes in your wardrobe, you’ll build a great selection of clothes that you know you’ll wear much faster.
Stock up on accessories.
Accessories are, without a doubt, the easiest way to pull any look together, regardless of the vibe you want to achieve. You can update jeans and a black t-shirt with bold earrings or pair layered, delicate jewelry with a dress for a more feminine look. A cool ear cuff or stacked rings can give you an instant edge, and pearls can make you look polished and lady-like in an instant. Add a patterned scarf, opt for edgy ankle booties instead of your normal black flats, or strut a bright clutch to add more personality.
Trust your instincts & be authentic.
The single, most important thing when developing your personal style is to be true to yourself. Yes, keeping up with the trends and wearing the same jacket that Gigi Hadid strutted at Fashion Week feels satisfying at first, but it’s short-lived if it’s a jacket that doesn’t fall into your personal style.
Don’t focus on the size or the designer label because this will only hinder your creativity and lead to more impulse buying. Continue to experiment with different patterns, textures, accessories, and shoes. It all boils down to feeling good in your own skin. Your style should reflect and celebrate your life, individuality, and personality. Own your style, be proud of it, and embrace fashion as a way to express who you are and who you want to be!
Trust your gut, because something that makes you feel confident and beautiful never goes out of style.